Friday, January 22, 2010

Out with it.

There is the view that we live in difficult times.

Looking around my life, I cannot imagine how it could be much less difficult.

I work, yes. Often more than what could be considered a 'healthy' amount. I make choices, sacrifices. Just like you.

But despite that, or, perhaps, because of it, I find my life overflowing with richness. Family. Friends. Time spent outside, admiring, striving to understand, interacting with the world we are all a part of.

What am I getting at?

I have no real idea. I am just so full of life right now I can't help but to share some of it. Bursting forth, spilling over the edges, erupting even. Any explanation I attempt gets irretrievably lost, buried in an avalanche of words.

Mere words--fah. Never trusted 'em. Probably never will.

Instead, please--take 4 minutes and watch, listen, to this:


Good? Good.

I have no clear idea what the song is about (Words! Fah!). But I can sense the intense passion therein. Somehow, it fills me up. With any luck the visuals I appended to the music will have done a bit of the same for you.

That's all.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Goose ain't cooked.

Worth mentioning at the outset here: all of the pics we took on this day show a warm, dry, fun experience. Not so! We simply kept the cameras holstered as we slogged through any kind of goop. And ultimately we cut the day waaaaay short because as it warmed up there was far more goop than any responsible rider would be caught dead in.

After the previous day's airtime, Skippy had no need to open his eyes for moves like this.

Hard to see from this angle, but this may well be one of the few drops-to-tranny anywhere out on the mesa. Smooth landing.

A common theme for me, riding-in-the-moment out there, is to pay close attention to the macro directly underfoot whenever heading west. But when the trail switches back on itself, or if we're scoping something new and turn to the east, I suddenly see and remember Zion. WHAM--right up in your grill.

I've seen much more snow out here but never as much ice.

Near the turnoff for Hidden Canyon.

As we'd learn, the only thing really rideable out there was S. Rim. And even then, by 10am the melt was on and it got ugly quick. HC was out, Yellow and N. Rim were waaaaay out. I never even brought up Grey Matter--as deep as the snow was I knew better than to go looking there.

Farther along S. Rim.

The time we spent on rock was stellar. Dry, tacky, washed clean of dust--you could easily stick to even the most ridiculous off-cambers.

But as we moved west we got into more and more mud, and it became obvious it was time to pull the plug.

Grudgingly we made the turn and headed back, and at our first opportunity bailed out to the road.

Any time spent up on Goose is time well spent. Having to cut it short merely meant that we could get Skippy home in time for his weekly Geritol infusion and into a fresh Depends before stuffing him into his rocker for another week of Golden Girls reruns.

'til next time...


Saturday, January 16, 2010


Mid-winter meltdown... seen locally on a balmy afternoon.

Truly enjoying the process of un/re-learning how to look at the world. Seeing it for the first time, if you know what I mean.

Hope that your current obsessions are all-encompassing, intensely frustrating, and occasionally gratifying.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Go time.

There is such a tremendous variety of trails in SW Utah that a guy can easily find himself afflicted with analysis paralysis so severe that it becomes difficult to simply exit the lumpy motel room bed. Hundreds of miles of smoothish trails to cater to the just-cover-ground-NOW types, a similar amount of mini-chunk for those that like their flow a little less so, some of the world's best rock crawling on the Gooseberry and Little Creek twins, and even a modicum of shuttleable stuff. I don't know much about this last category--IMO if you wanna ride down you gotta ride up.

Skippy wasn't admitting as much, but before he even opened his eyes on this day he had a plan, and that plan involved only one thing: air. This unassuming family guy/business professional/churchmouse type has a beast living within, always hungry for more and more time spent flying while attached to his bike. I got my first glimpse of it in BC a few months ago, and if anything his chronic has increased exponentially since.

He humored me by bandying about other ideas, but in the end he made the call and the call was to head for the Barrels.

Barrels (properly 'Barrel Cactus trail') can be easily smoothed by a competent rider, but you need to be far better than competent to execute every alternate line along the way. Alternate lines? Gaps, drops, straight hucks, step-ups, hips, and step-downs. Skippy knows this about Barrels. He also knows that I am far from confident in my competence, or lack thereof.

What followed throughout the day was Skippy sending all but one move on Barrels, some of them twice and many thrice. I played the role of eager photog, mostly because if I didn't have a camera in-hand he'd have pushed me off of a house-sized rock.

No soundtrack on this one--all the better to hear the sound of tires on dirt and rock, chainslap, self-abusive commentary and, of course, cackling.

We also rode Zen trail, which for all of its fun and swoopiness and mini-chunk somehow ended up poorly represented in the vid. At sunset we were shown a small chunk of AMA, but (thankfully) the sun fell off a cliff before we were able to do the same. Based on what we did see I think that Barrels might become Skippy's second favorite SW Utah trail. Gah.

An enjoyable day in many ways. But also one that left me craving something... else.

One more day to go...


Monday, January 11, 2010

With chips, please?

The last quarter mile of dirt road up to the Guacamole trailhead is on the steeper side. More importantly, it's tucked up against a north-facing rock wall, and doesn't get any sun this time of year. While the rest of the road was pretty well dry and smooth, this last bit was a sheet of lumpy ice. On a hill. Next to a cliff.

I started this trip with a newfound confidence in my car's AWD and ABS capabilities. This confidence was the direct result of an abundance of snowpacked and icy roads (and parking lots...) at home, combined with my own keen interest in finding the limits of said AWD and ABS systems. For me, the week before leaving looked a lot like this:

(Not me, not my car, not my vid, etc...)

Our only attempt at driving up the road was aborted at the crux move, as all 4 tires spun and forward progress turned suddenly to sideways progress. I backed the car down (Skippy was all-too-happy to get out and walk, under the pretense of giving direction), parked, then we unloaded the bikes and rode easily up.

Up top we found clean, dry rock, staggering views, an occasional ice-filled pothole, and an otherwise empty trail.

Traction on the rock was outstanding, prompting us to attempt and execute several, um, interesting sequences that probably should have waited until MUCH later in the day--when we'd finally found our feet again.

We'd been told that the trail was short--a mere 8 miles comprised the entire loop. But we knew better: the 'entire loop' merely scratched the surface of an ocean of seemingly virgin and interconnected rock.

Sometimes our exploring was necessary--it's easy to lose the thread of the 'real' trail and once you've lost it you need to circle out until you stumble back onto it. But more often we'd see an interesting feature and head over (if possible) to check it out.

It was emphatically a slow-speed, rock-crawling, on-the-ground kind of day. That's the kind of riding I prefer, and although I felt rusty and a bit disconnected from the bike, I was at least within my comfort zone.

Skippy, on the other hand, was not in a happy place. It's not that he's bad at rock crawling--he's actually really good at it. It's just that he prefers speed, and air, and, if possible, more air. He never really found his groove on this day, stacking hard once on a committing gap move and spending the rest of the day delicately limping around.

As with the previous evening, there was no real rush to get anywhere, nor to cover ground just for the sake of it. We rode, we scoped, we gawked at the gawkables. And, at least one of us wondered how the trail came to be named as it is.

Sunset threatened a little earlier than we had hoped, prompting me to ask (rhetorically, of course) when I had last burned 6 hours on a mere "8 miles" of trail?

Rhetorical question notwithstanding, I answered myself aloud if only to underscore the obvious: Too damn long ago!

As the sun slid lower we grudgingly yet cheerfully turned tail and headed from whence we'd come.

Back at the motel we feasted on a disgustingly blissful combo of freeze-dried lasagna, tortilla chips, Oreos, dark chocolate gelato, jalapeno cheese curds, winter-harvest huckleberries, and Nuun.

Downright heavenly.

Two more days to go...


Saturday, January 9, 2010


Several weeks of real winter and difficult (if any) riding conditions prompted Skippy and I to plot a brief escape to pseudo-spring. We pointed the car west and put this in the rearview.

Saw lotsa this along the way.

Fiveish hours of mellow, ice-free driving brought us into a valley shaped, at least in part, by the Virgin River. Knowing we had extremely limited daylight, and fueled by a severe shortage of recent on-dirt time, we headed straight to the most easily accessed trailhead. Stepping out of the car we found dry dirt under our feet, rock and desert veg all around us, and smiles on our faces.


We suited up in short minutes and were immediately wending our way through the creosote, cacti and rabbitbrush. Destination? We didn't need one--we were here.

By any standard the illumination we had this evening was exceptional. Wispy low clouds diffused the warm, angular light, while the amber rock absorbed and amplified it. More than once I caught myself stopped, feet on the ground, arms draped, mouth agape, just gawking at the landscape spread before us. Sure it was good to see dirt and rock and color instead of shades of grey and white, but this, THIS went way beyond a change of scenery.

This was, as I said, exceptional.

A lack of consistent riding these past several weeks left our legs unsure of how to respond to all we asked of them. Crank then coast? Sure, fine. Perch and grind? Um, not for long. Due to the complaints of our legs and the sweetiousness of the too-brief evening, we kept it mellow and just enjoyed what came.

Zero wind, deliciously uncold air, and the warmth of the visible (visible I say!) low sun drew us out of winter mode faster than we expected. I didn't even know I'd been *in* winter mode--I needed the silly gaping grin pasted on my face to make me understand.

I zoomed in on Skippy's face while composing a shot and noticed that he, too, was grinning. Possible that it was a grimace, but I'd bet on the former.

We chose this trail merely for simplicity of access. We were rewarded with far more than we expected, or even hoped for.

Not wanting to push our luck, we wrapped it up before full dark.

Can't speak for Skippy but I felt like I could have gone home, satisfied already, from just these two hours out on the bike.

Fortunately, we had three more days to spend.

Stay tuned.